Treating Jerusalem’s garbage

Municipal company embarks on effort to build treatment facility for capital’s solid waste.

April 12, 2011 03:33
3 minute read.
Treating Jerusalem’s garbage

poverty garbage jerusalem 224 . (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi [file])


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Jerusalem Wastewater Purification Enterprises, a subsidiary of the city’s Hagihon water company, is in the initial stages of planning a solid waste treatment facility in the Atarot area as a longterm solution to the capital’s trash disposal problem.

“The city of Jerusalem and the company signed a contract according to which the company will find and implement a permanent solution for the treatment of solid waste in Jerusalem, including sorting, separating, creating energy and the like,” according to a Jerusalem Wastewater statement.

Under the current system, the city’s mixed solid waste, along with solid waste from surrounding areas, is shipped to the Abu Dis landfill, located about 15 kilometers from Jerusalem’s center, the company estimated.

“Within a radius of 30 km. from the center of the city’s jurisdiction, there are no additional disposal/treatment alternatives for mixed municipal solid waste capable of treating the amount of solid waste produced by the city of Jerusalem,” the report said. “The municipality is working to prepare a solid waste treatment facility and is examining the feasibility of setting up a facility for sorting and separating, including recycling, in the city.”

In 2010, the city’s population was approximately 800,000, with 203,500 households, each with an average of 3.93 persons. The total municipal waste was 372,732 tons, the equivalent of 1,035 tons per day, according to company data. Per person, this amounted to 1.3 kg. per day, with trash output peaking during holidays.

By weight, organic matter accounted for the largest proportion of the waste, at 40 percent, with plastics at just 13%. By volume, however, plastics accounted for 46%, as opposed to just 10% for organic matter.

Jerusalem Wastewater estimates that the city’s solid waste output increases by 2% each year. Therefore, by 2019 the daily amount of solid waste per Jerusalemite will reach 1.55 kg., and with an estimated population of about 941,000, the total will reach almost 526,220 tons.

The municipality contracted with DHV, an environmental and engineering consulting firm, for a list of alternatives to the city’s current waste management, according the report. DHV generated five proposals:

1. transferring solid waste directly for burial at the Mishor Rotem landfill site in the South

2. using mechanical-biological treatment, where mixed solid waste is mechanically sorted at a transfer station into dry, recyclable parts, as well as a liquid stream that undergoes anaerobic digestion

3. separating waste at the household stage, and then sending the dry waste for recycling and the liquid waste for anaerobic digestion

4. separating the waste at the household stage, but using composting rather than anaerobic digestion for the liquids

5. a combination of the second and third options, in which separation at the household stage will increase gradually until it reaches 34% by 2020.

Jerusalem Wastewater has not yet determined which of the systems it intends to use, according to Hagichon chairman Moshe Klachin.

“We are examining all types of treatment, and after the request for information we will know what we prefer,” he told The Jerusalem Post.

In seeking information – the first stage in a three-part process – the firm is asking companies all over the world to issue proposals for their technologies by May 31. Crucial to this undertaking, Klachin and a team visited Germany last week to learn how that country handles waste treatment.

“We believe that Europe has the highest level of technology in this field, but we have agreed to accept responses from anywhere,” he said, noting that the technology most likely will come from abroad because “there is no experience in Israel.”

Once the technology is selected, Jerusalem Wastewater estimates that construction will take about two years at a cost of at least $100 million. The facility will also treat trash from nearby cities such as Modi’in, Modi’in Illit, Givat Ze’ev and Mevaseret Zion, according to Klachin.

“This is a good thing,” he said. “It will contribute to an environmental solution in Jerusalem and in the [wider] area.”

No matter how the team decides to treat the waste, Klachin intends to generate energy from the piles of garbage.

“The mayor of Jerusalem always talks about green energy,” he said, “and this project, from all the weight of the trash, can produce natural gas.”

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